Paper Thoughts

What happens when you want to journal, but things get in the way?

A lot of us like the idea of journaling. We think about journaling and know it’s a great idea, maybe we go out and buy a cool journal (or get one from Paper Thoughts!). Maybe we get a special colored pen or a pencil with a neat design, or we gather our art supplies. We are going to do it! We’re going to journal!

And we do!

For a little bit…
And then we don’t.

We know we’ve got a lot of stuff running around in our heads it would be helpful to get out. We know it feels good to get it out. We know it’s healthy to get it out.

But we get lost. We forget. We get distracted. We just don’t have the energy.
Then we say “journaling just doesn’t work for me.”
But maybe we’re just not doing it in a way that really works for us.

How do you make journaling work for you?

1. Figure out the way that works best for you.

If you don’t enjoy writing, art journaling might be a better choice. If you don’t enjoy hand-writing, an e-journal or online blog might be for you. If neither of those work for you, try video journaling or vlogging. A journal, a sketchbook, a computer, a phone, an app; find what works best for you.

2. Come up with a routine.

If you feel like you want to, you can set a schedule for yourself. You can build journaling in to your routine. Personally I like to journal right before bed because it helps me sleep. But maybe you like journaling about your dreams so you want to journal when you first wake up. Or maybe you journal as soon as you get home from school so you can get all your thoughts and feeling from the day out. Find a time that makes the most sense for you.

3. Use journal prompts

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out where to start when journaling. If you’re looking for a starting point, check out our resources page for a ton of journal prompts. There are lots of different topics to choose from. Each topic has 10 questions to get you thinking and journaling.

4. Give yourself a reminder.

If you have a hard time remembering to journal, you can also set reminders for yourself. You can set an alarm on your phone to remind you to journal. You can also ask Siri or Cortana and they can remind you. Or go the old-fashioned route and leave a post-it note where you’ll see it.

5. Journal with a friend.

Sometimes it’s nice to sit next to someone and journal alongside them. It can be a great way to spend quality time together. It can also be a great way to stay accountable to your journaling. You can share what you wrote or not, whatever feels comfortable. It can also be fun to answer journal prompts with a friend to get to know them better.

Don’t have any friends who journal? Join us at our Journaling for Wellness Group at Montgomery Book Exchange from 6-8pm. Check out our facebook page for more info!

6. Or don’t do any of these things

You don’t have to do any of the things listed above if they don’t feel right to you.

It doesn’t matter if you journal every day, or once in a long while.

If you journal at all you’re an awesome journaler!

It doesn’t matter if your spelling and grammar is incorrect. It doesn’t matter if your art isn’t the prettiest. You don’t have to write pages and pages for a journal entry. You don’t have to create a masterpiece of art for art journaling. Write a few sentences, draw something small. Even 5 minutes spent expressing yourself is healing.

You can’t really be “bad” at journaling because there’s no wrong way to do it. Journaling is just for you. The only thing you might be doing “wrong” is stressing yourself out or being too hard on yourself about it.

If you’re expressing yourself, you’re journaling the right way!

A whole year! Now what?!

This March is our “birthday! It’s been a full year of Paper Thoughts!. There are so many wonderful people who have worked super hard to support us in the last year. If you’re reading this, you’re one of them and you deserve a huge THANK YOU!

Thanks to your support, in one short year we’ve:

  • Created a website, facebook and Instagram page (I’ll have to journal a little more to get over my nerves about making a youtube channel…)
  • Written 9 blog posts (the goal was one a month, but 9/12 isn’t too bad)
  • Developed a database of over 250 journal prompts  on a ton of different topics
  • Developed a “journaling basics guide” to include with every journal given to a kid in need
  • Presented a TedxTalk on the power of journaling (watch it here!)
  • Presented on journaling to a group of human services professionals
  • Attended several tabling events to spread the love of journaling
  • Partnered with South Middle School, Goshen Middle School, Orange County Department of Mental Health and Its a Girl Thing to get journals to kids

and MOST importantly, thanks to your generous donations and support;

We gave out 164 journals and sketchbooks to kids in need


Because you’re such a big part of Paper Thoughts, we want to share our goals for the coming year with you (Check out our blog post on goal setting in the new year here).

  1. Become a registered non-profit.
  2. Share more blog posts with journaling tips and topics
  3. Develop more journaling resources and journal prompts
  4. Give out more than 164 journals and sketchbooks this year

We are SO excited to keep growing in the next year. Want to help? Here’s some things you can do to help us reach our goals!

  • If you have any experience starting a non-profit or the paperwork involved, we’d love to have your guidance and hear your tips and tricks
Blog posts
  • Share your ideas about what we should blog about!
  • Do you want to share your ideas or a story about journaling with the Paper Thoughts following? Volunteer to be a guest blogger. Send us an email or shoot us a message about your idea and we’ll work with you to make it happen! We’d love to have a guest blogger on art journaling, stories about why journaling is helpful to you, or any other topic you can think of!
Journaling Resources
  • We have a LOT of journal prompts, but are always trying to think of more. If you think of a topic that we haven’t covered yet or come across a really cool prompt we might not know about let us know! We’d love to hear it!
Give out more journals!
  • Maybe you have an awesome skill, like web design, photography, video editing, social media, or organization. Maybe you’re just looking to get some volunteer hours (I’m looking at you high school kids who want to beef up their resumes!) Reach out to us by email or facebook message to volunteer!
  • Donate to our gofundme page. Just $5 will buy a journal or sketchbook! Share our campaign so others can donate too!
  • Send journals and sketchbooks. Encourage your friends to send us journals too! Paper Thoughts Program POB 64 Walker Valley NY 12588. If you’re local, message us and we can set up an in person pick up!
  • Own a business and want some good press? Email us and we can set up a collection point at your business or you can sponsor us, we’d be sure to share on our website and social media to let everyone know how awesome you are!
  • If you want to bring journaling to a group of kids you know and love, message us on facebook or send us an email and we can work with you to get journals into their hands! If you want we can also set up a time to work with the kids or give a super cool presentation on journaling to them.  
  • If you know an organization or school that might be interested in partnering with us to give out journals let us know! We’d love for you to hook us up!

I know you’re probably super busy (thanks for taking the time to read this!) so if the calls for help above are a little too much, but you still think Paper Thoughts is super cool, not to worry, there’s still important things you can do to help us out!

  • Follow us on Facebook, and share our posts!
  • Follow us on Instagram! @paperthoughtsprogram Use the hashtags #writeyourheartout #artyourheartout #paperthoughtsprogram
  • Follow our blog and share our posts! The more shares we’ve got the more people will see us and the more kids we’ll have the chance to help!

Last but absolutely not least, we want to share a few very special thank yous for people that went above and beyond to support us in the last year.

  1. Kephra Rubin at Walk Through the Valley for consulting and web design help
  2. Mikenzi Philips at The Art of M for designing our super awesome logo
  3. Shirley Seifert for helping us win a Thrivent Grant
  4. Kelly Robin at Starbucks for organizing journal drives at 3 locations
  5. Jenn Reigler for organizing a journal drive and donating a ton of journal

And of course, everyone who donated and helped distribute journals this past year

You guys are amazing!

The pages of a journal will always listen, will you help kids feel heard in the coming year?

Do you remember how it felt to be in middle school? Oh, yes, we’re going there. Everything is changing, your body is changing, relationships are changing, roles in your family, how you’re educated: it’s all changing. During all of that, you’re somehow expected to naturally know how to cope with all of it, right?

Where does all of this go, before it all boils over?

A few months ago I was working with a student who was really struggling. We tried lots of different things, different skills to help her feel better, but none of them really “stuck.” We had stopped making progress.

Then we started writing together. Writing became a wonderful tool for her to express herself and release her pain. Things improved immensely, she was able to communicate with others better, focus in school, and just looked happier.

I was so proud of her, but my heart sank, She told me she tried not to write everyday Because she was afraid of filling up her nice journal too quickly. Writing in a notebook from the dollar store, or on scraps of paper may technically work, but the cheap paper, the scattered nature all served as a reminder of her current situation, while the nice journal helped her travel into the future and ponder what she truly wanted for herself. It allowed her to let go and dream.

So I bought some journals, nice ones, the kind a person could dream in. She was so ecstatic, I couldn’t help myself…I bought more journals… I bought… SOOO many journals and offered them to more kids, and the same thing happened.

Then the magic really hit, I started talking about it and grownups really loved the idea of helping kids journal. It was as if they could remember what it was it was like in middle school, and while no one ever handed them a journal, they had the chance to do that now for someone.

Not only did friends and coworkers bring me journals, but others were donating through facebook, and even volunteering as local collection points in their home towns, sending me cases of journals. I was able to offer these special things to more kids, and not only were more kids journaling, but more kids were reaching out for help.

So I started the Paper Thoughts Program.

The Paper Thoughts Program allows me to provide journals and sketchbooks to schools and other youth serving organizations, giving children the tools to find their voice, and manage emotions that might otherwise boil over. While I’m not psychic I do believe that such a thing ensures a brighter future for all.

Our goal started out small, hoping to collect enough journals to provide any student at South Middle School that needs an outlet for their emotions. Now, we hope to branch out to other schools, mental health providers, and youth serving organizations. With your help we can do that! Check out our Get Involved page for more info!